Reactions to food  are very common.  People can be born with them, or they can develop later in life. It is also very common for someone to develop an intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods later in life. Learn about food allergies, intolerance, sensitivities, elimination diets, and symptoms that can occur.

What is a Food Allergy?

A few different types of food reactions can occur in people. The first is called a food allergy, which occurs when the body's immune system reacts to a particular food protein as if it were harmful. When this happens, histamine and other chemicals are released into the bloodstream, which can cause symptoms like hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and even anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening reaction). Food allergies are more severe than other types of food reactions and are more likely to be lifelong.

The second type is called food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance. This is when someone has difficulty digesting a particular food or ingredient. Unlike an allergy, the immune system isn't involved in food intolerance. Symptoms of food intolerance can include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and headache. Some people also experience what's known as "brain fog" after eating foods they're intolerant to. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances are usually not lifelong.

The third type of food reaction is called sensitivity. This is when someone experiences symptoms after eating a particular food, but it's unclear why. Sensitivities can be tricky to diagnose because there's no definitive test for them. And like intolerances, they're often not lifelong. It's thought that sensitivities may be more common than we realize since many people don't connect their symptoms with the foods they eat.

More About Food Intolerance.

There are a few different types of food intolerances, the most common being lactose intolerance. This is when your body cannot digest lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products. Other food intolerances include gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, soy sauce and multiple other food and food additives. Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance and is an autoimmune disorder that structurally affects the digestive system. If you have celiac disease, you must follow a strict gluten-free diet.

Food allergies can also cause food sensitivities. A food allergy occurs when your body has an immune reaction to a particular food protein. Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish. If you have a food allergy, you will need to avoid the food you are allergic to and may need to carry an epinephrine injector with you in case of a severe reaction.

Symptoms of Food Intolerances.

There are a few different reasons why someone might have food sensitivities. One reason is that they have something called a leaky gut. This means that their digestive system is not functioning properly, and those food particles can pass through their gut lining and into their bloodstream. This can cause an immune response, leading to inflammation and various symptoms including abdominal pain and/or cramping, joint pain, congestion, headaches, and more.

Suboptimal gut health can cause food intolerance or sensitivity, which means the body cannot properly digest certain foods. This can be due to several factors, such as a lack of enzymes or stomach acid. An imbalance in gut bacteria can also cause food intolerance. These imbalances can occur for various reasons, such as taking antibiotics or eating a diet high in processed foods.

Nasal Congestion.

There are a few possible reasons why you may have food sensitivities. One reason could be that your digestive system is not breaking down food properly. When food isn't broken down properly, it can cause an immune reaction and lead to symptoms like nasal congestion. Another reason for food sensitivities could be that you are sensitive to a specific food or ingredient.

Food intolerances differ from food sensitivities because they don't involve the immune system. With food intolerance, your body has difficulty digesting a certain food or ingredient, which can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If you have a food intolerance, you may be able to eat small amounts of food without having symptoms. But you may react if you eat too much of the food or ingredient.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

There are a few different types of food intolerances. One type is lactose intolerance. This means your body can't digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. If you're lactose intolerant, you may have symptoms like nausea, bloating, and diarrhea after eating or drinking milk or other dairy products. Another type of food intolerance is gluten intolerance. This means your body can't digest gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. In some cases, gluten intolerance can actually  be one of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome.

To manage food sensitivity symptoms, it is recommended that one keeps a food diary of what you eat and drink and any symptoms you experience afterwards. Evaluating your food diary can show you what foods tend to aggravate your symptoms.

What are the Different types of food allergies?

Lactose intolerance

There are a few different types of food sensitivities that people can experience. The most common ones are food allergies, lactose intolerance, and gluten sensitivity. Let's take a closer look at each one.

Food allergies occur when your body has an adverse reaction to a particular food protein. This can happen if you eat the food, breathe in dust or pollen that contains the protein, or come in contact with the protein through your skin. Common symptoms of a food allergy include hives, difficulty breathing, throat or mouth swelling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have a severe food allergy, it can even lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. When people with lactose intolerance eat or drink foods that contain lactose, they may experience bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Some people with lactose intolerance can still consume small amounts of lactose without having any symptoms, while others will need to avoid all forms of dairy entirely.

Peanut allergy

The most common symptom of a food allergy is itching or swelling in the mouth, and other symptoms can include hives, trouble breathing, and stomach cramps. Peanut allergies are one of the most common types of food allergies. People with peanut allergies need to be careful about what they eat because even a tiny amount of peanuts can trigger an allergic reaction.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is a reaction to the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. People with gluten sensitivity may experience digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. They may also have fatigue, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, and skin rashes. Some people with gluten sensitivity can eat small amounts of gluten without having any symptoms, while others will need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

What is the Elimination Diet?

The elimination diet is a process of removing potential allergens from your diet for a while and then gradually reintroducing them one at a time. The most common food allergens are dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. However, you may be sensitive to other foods as well. The elimination diet can help you identify your food sensitivities so that you can make the necessary changes to your diet.

If you think you might have food sensitivities, it's important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting the elimination diet. They can provide you with guidance and support throughout the process. Eliminating potential allergens from your diet can be challenging, but it's important to do your best to stick with the plan. The elimination diet is not a quick fix, but it can be an effective way to identify your food sensitivities and make the necessary changes to your diet. With patience and dedication, you can find a way to enjoy the foods you love without having to worry about food sensitivities.

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Key Takeaways About Food Intolerance.

Having a food intolerance can be annoying and take a long time to figure out, but eliminating foods from your diet can show you what harmless food is a part of your diet. Having an allergic reaction can be life-threatening, so it is important to speak with your doctor about a plan and make sure you stay safe.